Tuesday, January 17, 2017

First Week in Alaska

Hey everyone! I'm in Alaska now, it's pretty awesome. I guess I'll start with events from last week to fill you in.
So on Tuesday we flew into Anchorage and got acquainted with a new landscape. Snow was everywhere and fog was really heavy, apparently that's typical Anchorage. Wednesday we had some training, mostly for vehicle safety, then met our trainers and found out where are first areas were. We also went to the Anchorage temple. After that we ate dinner, then got dropped off at the airport. Our flight to Fairbanks was scheduled at about 7:40 pm but we didn't take off until closer to 10:00 because of heavy ice fog. We arrived at FAI around 11:00 and got to our apartment in North Pole at 12:00. Between now and then I've gotten to know the area and have met with a few people. People here are super nice, Alaska is a great place to be.
So for our vehicle we drive a Nissan Frontier, our area covers quite a distance, about an hour drive north to south, we spend a lot of time driving. We live in North Pole, about 30 minutes south of Fairbanks. Santa Claus and his reindeer live here, I'll have to get pictures of all that for next week's letter. It's always Christmas here, and all the street lights are painted like candy canes, it's a fun place. There's an Air Force Base about 20 minutes south of us, we go there quite a bit to talk to people. Everything is covered in snow, it'll be like this for many months. On Saturday it snowed really heavy, today it's lightly snowing. On Saturday we helped out with a junior dog sled race, that was really cool to see. Those dogs really love to run, that's all they want to do, so we had to hold the sled until they could take off. It's dark here a lot, the sun doesn't get too high either. Also, it gets cold in this part. -30 is the coldest I've seen so far but it's supposed to be 40 below this week, maybe 50 below next week. I thought it would feel worse, but it's not that bad, I've gotten used to it quick. Just have to dress warm and throw on a heavy coat when I leave the apartment.
All in all, it's really great here, the people are awesome, and it's a beautiful place. Best thing is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still true even up here in the cold! People have such great faith and devotion, and really hold their families dear to them. I'm grateful to be up here serving among them, strengthening their faith in Christ as well as my own. I love you all and wish the best for you, I hope everyone is doing great. Stay positive and stay happy! Life is always gonna throw curve balls, but it's no fun if you just sit there and let them hit you, you've gotta swing!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

MTC week two

Hey family and friends! Well this is the second week of being here in the MTC, and time is really flying by. Hard to believe that I only have two weeks left until my flight to Alaska. I'm super stoked, but I'm really starting to love it here. Some missionaries left from our zone today, some leave tomorrow (our zone is made of three districts, a district consists of about 6-12 missionaries). It was hard saying goodbye to them, it made me realize how hard its going to be to say goodbye when its my turn to leave. New missionaries come in tomorrow, the district coming to our zone will be about 12 missionaries, six elders and six sisters. We're all excited to meet them and create friendships, and get them off to a great start for their next 18-24 months. This Sunday/ Christmas we woke up to about 6-8 inches of snow with it still falling down, that made for a pretty nice Christmas Day. I got to call the family in Texas and Utah, it was nice to hear their voices (and my dog haha, I miss her a lot). It was an emotional time for a lot of the other missionaries, especially the sisters. I'll probably say this in every single letter, but I don't think I have ever learned and grown so much as a person in such a short amount of time. I feel like I've been here a lot longer than two weeks, and its amazing that I've made such great friendships in a short amount of time- I guess that's what happens when you spend everyday with the same people; I wouldn't have it any other way. We all love and care about each other, and I have to attribute that to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the example that He set for us are truly life changing. He taught us to love all of our fellow men, to follow in His path, and to keep the commandments that our Father in Heaven has given us. I've seen it change lives here, I've seen it change my own life and continue to, and I know that it can change anyone's life - no one is too far from the healing power of Christ. 
I love you all, I miss you all, and I think about ya'll everyday. Keep your families close, they're one of the most important things we have in this life. When you think that you have nothing, you still have family. 
Write to me if you get time, I love hearing from ya'll!!

Much Love,
Elder Ashton Hymas

MTC week one

Hello family and friends! Just under a week ago I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah, although it feels like I've been here about three times that long. Each day starts around 6:00 am and ends around 10:00 pm. Here at the MTC we mostly learn how to connect with people and how to love and see them as God sees them. I feel like that's a lesson that everyone could use, and I wish I could have learned it better much earlier in life. With each day being so long and packed with classes and studying it can be hard at times, but I know that I've never grown as much as a person in such a short amount of time. They had a saying on the first day: "Growth doesn't come in your comfort zone, but comfort comes in your growth zone." Its been hard adjusting to being in a full time growth zone, but I am definitely beginning to find comfort in it. It connects really well with the story/ parable of lobster growth, for those of you who have heard that one. Meals here are nice, but nothing like home cooking. I eat three BIG meals a day, but still stay my same slender self. Unlimited chocolate milk has had no effect either haha. I've been blessed to stay healthy, but the dry and cold weather takes a toll on me. Coldest its been here in Provo is about 7 degrees, but I'm enjoying this warm weather before I have to go to Alaska. It's supposed to hit 34 degrees BELOW in Fairbanks, AK this week, ouch. Anchorage is warmer than here though, so I guess we'll see if I spend my winter there next year or if I go farther north. Time will tell. I leave for AK in about the second week of January and get to spend my 21st up there, maybe an Alaskan birthday will feel different from a Texan? Getting to Alaska is kind of my light at the end of the tunnel for the next 3 weeks, although I do love it here and have made some great friends. I feel impressed to let you all know that God knows you each individually and He desires a relationship with each of His children here on the earth. We can establish this relationship by beginning with prayer, opening up the desires of our hearts and giving thanks for what we have in our lives, no matter how small or simple they may seem to us. There's others things we can do as well, but the basis of any relationship is communication, so why would it be any different with our Father in Heaven? 
Well, next email will be next Tuesday. Feel free to email me throughout the week, responses will come on Tuesdays until I get to Alaska. I hope everyone of yall are doing great, you're in my thoughts quite often and I try to keep you in my prayers. I hope you're enjoying warmer weather than me!

With Love,
Elder Ashton Hymas